UPDATE: 2:49 ET, Jan. 13, 2014 — HBO — at last — renewed The Newsroom for a six-episode third and final season.
UPDATE: 7:58 p.m. EDT, Sept. 4 — HBO has now issued a statement, reiterating that the show has not yet been renewed: “We are excited about proceeding to a Season 3 and are continuing our conversations with Aaron about schedules.”
UPDATE: 2:09 a.m. EDT, Sept. 4 — On Tuesday night, Newsroom star Jeff Daniels tweeted, “It’s official. #Newsroom coming back for a Season 3.” But I’m hearing HBO holding the actors’ contracts is not the same as a renewal. The status is unchanged until the schedules can be worked out. As the story below indicates, it is the show creator Aaron Sorkin who is busy. HBO did not respond to an email asking for a comment.
HBO is known for often renewing its successful shows the day after their season premieres, and The Newsroom is now through seven episodes of its nine-episode season. So where’s that renewal? Is it possible that Sorkin himself doesn’t want to do the show anymore?
A representative from HBO said, “We are actively involved in conversations with Aaron about a Season 3.” (His publicist would not comment.)
At an event for The Newsroom in Washington, D.C., last week, Sorkin said that HBO has offered him a third season of The Newsroom should he want it, which jibed with HBO’s Michael Lombardo saying at a press conference on July 25 that the show’s odds for renewal are “excellent.”
For the purposes of this story, let’s assume that there is no Newsroom without Aaron Sorkin. Even though technically, of course, there could be. But it’s his show, and the burden of creating it falls on him: As always, he writes every episode (with the help of a staff and consultants). Just read the top of Lacey Rose’s Hollywood Reporter story previewing Season 2 to get a sense of how hard it is on him. Some snippets: “I have no ideas right now” and “I’ve come to realize that it’s only being scared to death that gets it done” and “It’s a brutal, brutal feeling: I’m doing work that I know isn’t good.” There are actually more quotations like that in the story; I selected only a few! (In addition to Sorkin’s writer’s block agita, Rose reported that he also threw out the first part of Season 2 in order to restructure, having shot two episodes and written three. The Newsroom does not seem easy.)
In the plus column, while The Newsroom is not a blockbuster for HBO, its cumulative ratings are good. And its star, Jeff Daniels, is nominated for an Emmy for Best Actor. Also, more critics and social media loudmouths like it now than during its much-mocked first season. (It will never be for everybody.)
But Sorkin has lots of other things to do. Like finish his adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography for Sony, the studio that made The Social Network, which he’s been attached to since May 2012. There’s his long-in-development script for The Trial of the Chicago 7 as well, which has recently emerged from purgatory with Paul Greengrass attached as a director. And he told THR that after the Jobs project, he would work on The Politician, Andrew Young’s insane account of his toxic relationship with John Edwards; Sorkin bought the rights to the book in 2010, and it’s meant to be his feature directing debut.
At that press conference last month, HBO’s Lombardo said about Sorkin, “If we can figure out scheduling in terms of his time and being on the air next year, I would be shocked if you weren’t hearing an announcement soon.”
It’s been more than a month since Lombardo said that. Sorkin’s schedule — not HBO’s desire — definitely appears to be the issue here: Can HBO work around it? How much longer will Newsroom fans have to wait?